Sugar workers finally receive their salaries

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In light of high-level meetings regarding the financial state of the sugar industry, workers were finally paid but only after information surfaced that several categories of employees had not been paid for their services for about two weeks.

At Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, the Guyana Sugar Corporation’s (GuySuCo) request for urgent monies was granted which paved the way for workers across the estates to receive their salaries.This publication was told that workers at Uitvlugt and at Wales received their weekly salaries by Wednesday afternoon.

The disbursements for workers at Wales followed a nearly three-hour meeting at that entity on Wednesday morning where workers, in some tense moments, had demanded to know why they weren’t paid up to that point. Many workers had earlier contended that their dwindling finances were affecting their ability to feed and send their children to school and to meet other financial needs. This publication was made aware that the lack of finances during the period also hit the village economy.

It was reported in the media that the industry’s “cash-strapped” status was directly impacting workers. Workers across the industry were turning up at the various estates only to be told that there was no money available to pay them.

Workers still attached at the downsized Wales Sugar Estate had been called to a meeting on Monday, where they were informed of the industry’s financial state. When workers inquired as to when they will be receiving payments, officials at Wales were, at that time, reportedly reluctant to commit to a date but said that as soon as finances are available, the sugar workers would be paid.

On Monday, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo along with GuySuCo’s Chairman of the Board of Directors, Clive Thomas and Chief Executive Officer, Errol Hanoman, met to discuss “urgent cash flow relative to wages, salaries and other payments at GuySuCo.”

GuySuCo had revealed that at the high-level meeting, it was agreed on the steps to be taken to ensure the employees are paid for services provided to the Corporation for the past week. GuySuCo had disclosed that the Chairman and the CEO were “given assurances that the matter is being given the utmost consideration by the Government and the Corporation.”

At present, the Guyana Sugar Corporation employs close to 17,000 people but it has been estimated that its planned downsizing could directly affect the livelihoods of some 10,000 sugar workers and thousands more via their family members and communities that depend on the sugar industry.

Government has long contended that the necessary measures to re-organise sugar must be implemented for it to be sustained and the Wales Estate was the first entity to be closed under the policy decision which was met with much criticism and protests.

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